So, rumor has it that Shopify a really cool
canadian ecommerce platform used kittens as the core to their to their content marketing strategy to win new business.
Who doesn’t love kittens, right? The story goes like this: they were
looking for innovative ways to capture people’s attention on Facebook, and
someone – as a joke – said “People love kittens!” So they thought, “Why not?” and used a series of adorable baby cats
to draw attention to their ads, most likely running an impression-based
campaign that led to oodles of click-throughs and even signups. OK,
let’s stop here and acknowledge something right up front. Using adorable
baby animals isn’t really a strategy, it’s a classic bait-and-switch tactic.
And yes, with a volume play like this, there will be a certain number of
people that click through and actually find themselves thinking “Hey Shopify is
pretty cool! Now I can start that business, I’ve always wanted to!” Today, I’ll cover the law of diminishing returns on
cuteness, talk about what you can do in lieu of kittens, and, hopefully, give you
enough insight into the kitten-tactic so you can apply better thinking to your own
strategy…which isn’t about kittens. Hi, my name is Tara and this is…Truly Social. First…diminishing returns on cuteness.
This type of tactic is pretty much the reason that Facebook has choked off all
branded content on the newsfeed today. For a while, everyone from grocers to
gaming sites were using adorable animals to get us to click, like, and share their
posts. And, it pretty much worked for a while until people started complaining that
their news feeds were full of garbage content. Facebook took a hard stand and
penalized ALL brands by reducing their exposure to our news feeds drastically
“This is why we can’t have nice things.” Today, it’s pretty much a pay-to-play scenario
for brands, and, frankly, i’m relieved as a Facebook denizen. Generally, I don’t advise
clients to focus on Facebook at all any longer. It’s an advertising platform now.
But that is also why it’s important not to ruin all other social platforms. Thankfully
most of them don’t have something similar to a news feed that brands can
pollute with their short-term thinking. But, let’s get back to those kittens, shall we?
Kittens worked for Shopify and some others for a while because they appealed to our
emotions. And emotion is one of the strongest drivers behind why we share. In
his 2013 book, Contagious: why things catch on, Jonah Berger outlines six basic
principles that drive word-of-mouth: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public,
Practical Knowledge, and Stories. Emotion has been manipulated as a
marketing tool since the days of Ernest Dichter, “the father of motivational
research.” Throughout the decades, marketing has viewed customers as a mass of
irrational, unconscious urge-wielding consumers. And yes, we are all guilty of emotional
irrationality from time-to-time, but the internet and social media have revealed
that we are much more complex than that. Facebook realized in the nick of time that the
“Kittening of content” would chase off the more quality social-seeking denizens, so
they put a stop to it. And, yes, you may still have that Uncle or cousin that shares ridiculous motivational quotes constantly, but thankfully, they’ve been contained.
“I’m just expressing myself.” “No no no, not like that you’re not.”
Instead of appealing to our most base emotions, brands have five other principles that
should be explored. I urge you to pick up Berger’s book and explore them,
and I’ll also cover how you can come up with an awesome, more suitable
content theme in another video. So, until then, my name is Tara and this has been…Truly Social.